Berg and the Medical University of South Carolina announced a strategic partnership, designed to identify new therapeutic pathways and potential biomarkers to treat Lupus, the autoimmune disease affecting one in every 2,000 people and one in every 250 young African American women.
In the partnership, Berg’s Interrogative Biology platform will be applied to several serum, urine, and kidney data points from select individuals, both lupus patients and controls followed in the Medical University of South Carolina rheumatology clinics. The Berg approach intends to take a holistic, pan-omic approach to drug discovery. As such the partnership will analyze the disease pathophysiology using the metabolomics, lipidomics, and proteomics data from tissue samples, expanding the search for a biomarker to predict the onset and progression of Lupus.
Current Lupus therapies are effective for approximately half of all patients, but these treatments only partially control the disease and often lead to harmful side-effects including infertility, infection and cardiovascular disease. Berg’s Interrogative Biology platform will be applied to the Medical University of South Carolina’s samples to identify previously undiscovered biomarkers, which can be used to create safer, personalized medicine.
Berg is a biopharmaceutical company committed to uncovering health solutions through a data-driven, biological research approach. Berg’s Interrogative Biology platform has been used successfully for discovery of targets, therapeutics and biomarkers for diverse diseases including cancer, metabolic diseases (diabetes, obesity) and neurodevelopment disorders (autism spectrum disorder, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s Disease). The Medical University of South Carolina is a leading lupus research center, with hundreds of patients and thousands of data points.
“This partnership allows us to expand and accelerate the search for Lupus biomarkers. Relatively little is known about the disease and, with help from the Medical University of South Carolina, we should be in a position to make some exciting progress in the next two or three years,” said Niven Narain, co-founder, president and chief technology officer of Berg. “We’re looking to uncover actionable insights, leading to the identification of new targets and, ultimately, the development of more patient-friendly, personalized therapies.”
Lupus causes a number of critical chronic conditions such as: arthritis, skin rash and kidney disease. It can result in significant morbidity and mortality, especially in people of color. The disease has a varied impact across population demographics, being most common in women, particularly African American women, as incidence rates in this group are much higher than the general population. Twenty-five percent of cases begin in childhood. The incidence of lupus is increasing making it even more imperative to find new treatments.
“Lupus presents a variety of health concerns and complications, ranging from arthritis to renal failure and whilst drugs exist, they are only partially effective for about half our patients,” said Gary Gilkeson, professor of medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina and director of the Lupus Research Group. “Combining Berg’s platform with our database and expertise puts us in a greater position to better understand this complex disease. What we learn through this partnership should help provide tailored drug therapies to positively impact the lives of more patients.”
“This partnership with MUSC is a real passion project for me personally, as lupus has touched my life and family in so many ways,” said Mitch Gray, co-founder and managing director of Berg LLC. “I am looking forward to making progress in treating this debilitating disease, and bringing new hope to patients, families and caretakers worldwide.”
Date: May 12, 2014